Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Know thy enemy: decision-making in plants under competition

Natural environments are often unpredictably heterogeneous in the intensity of competitive interactions imposed on plants. Plants are therefore likely to benefit from an ability to shift between different plastic responses to competition, including confrontation, tolerance or avoidance behaviour, contingent on the relative stature and density of their opponents. Here, we examine this hypothesis by simulating changes in both the height and density of neighbours.

Results with the clonal plant Potentilla reptans support this hypothesis, showing that ramets of the same genotypes ‘gave up the fight’ and switched to tolerance behaviour (i.e. high SLA) when confronted with taller neighbours.

Project funded by the DFG

Main Investigators: Michal Gruntman & Katja Tielbörger